Concepts Outside the Definition of Volunteering

The following areas are not considered to meet each of the core requirements of volunteering (‘without financial gain’, ‘willingly given’ and ‘for the common good’) and hence are not included in the definition of volunteering. It is acknowledged that many of these have a constructive, positive and vital role in society and may exist alongside volunteering and / or provide a pathway into volunteering.

  • Direct family responsibilities are excluded. It is recognised that direct familial relationships vary for different people and social groups and so this is open to individual interpretation. In addition, foster carers have many similarities with volunteers, but because of the family relationship, these are outside this definition of volunteering.
  • A number of programs are highly structured, with fixed requirements and provide options of volunteering type activities but with limited choice and/or varying types of in-built financial or reward outcomes. These vary widely and are excluded from this definition. Examples include:
    • Compulsory educational service learning (where students are required to volunteer as part of a course)
    • Mandated court orders including community service and fines
    • Internships
    • Formal work experience / vocational placements
    • Mandatory government programs
    • Limited choice labour market government programs
  • Volunteering requires a donation of time. Other types of donating such as giving money or materials and donating blood are not considered volunteering, although it is acknowledged there is a time element required in these forms of donating.